House of Commons Hansard #28 of the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was deal.

Topics

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Madam Speaker, I totally agree with my friend that trade, especially in our country where we produce more than we consume in a number of areas, is so important to how our economy functions.

We need to be able to get our product out and we need to have access to the world market. However, we are seeing some challenges, especially in the oil and gas industry. We are seeing it in some of our agricultural products. We still have concerns on aluminum. Softwood lumber still has its problems. Investment in the oil and gas sector is leaving the country by the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Although I agree with my friend across the way that trade is extremely important, and I congratulate the process moving forward, we need to talk about the shortcomings in this deal. Trade is a big piece of the economic puzzle, but unless we have the foundation correct, it is hard to attract investment and therefore increase business and economic capacity within the country.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I have a quick question.

I agree that this is not a perfect agreement. I think New Democrats all agree that it is not what we had hoped for. There is a lot in it that we like, but it is not a great agreement.

One of the things that is most concerning to me is the way the negotiations happened. It was all done behind closed doors. Parliamentarians were not invited into that process. Nor were the citizens of Canada invited into the process. That is not how we would like to see trade negotiations go forward. We would like to see Canadians involved from the very beginning, not given a fait accompli at the end.

Could you talk a little about whether a Conservative government would potentially also ensure that Canadians and parliamentarians would be involved in the process right off the bat?

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I am not going to respond to that. However, I want to remind the member that she is to address questions to the member through the Speaker.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Madam Speaker, on previous trade deals, if we look back in time, many of us who were in this place at the time would remember that the former minister of international trade, the member for Abbotsford, regularly opened up his office to members of all parties who had questions or who wanted to see documents.

I agree with my colleague that much of this deal was done in secret. Opposition parties had a very difficult time trying to access any kind of information. This is our job as parliamentarians. Our job is to analyze legislation. I know I had to find any text of this legislation on the U.S. government site.

Absolutely, the Conservatives support ensuring that the information is out. I think our past record speaks to that. The member for Abbotsford did just that when he was negotiating trade deals.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Cumberland—Colchester.

It is a great pleasure to rise in the House today in support of Bill C-4, the implementing legislation for the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement, otherwise known as CUSMA.

This agreement brings about the continued economic benefit to all parties and secures economic development and job opportunities by maintaining economic security, investment confidence and our dispute resolution and retaining existing access. The agreement provides key outcomes for Canadian businesses, workers and communities in areas such as labour, environment, automotive trade, dispute resolution, culture, energy, and agriculture and agri-food. Importantly, CUSMA also includes language on gender and indigenous peoples' rights.

The new and modernized agreement includes Canada's most ambitious environmental chapter to date, completed by a new environmental co-operation agreement. The environment chapter of the new NAFTA introduces key measures, such as a new enforceable chapter on the environment that replaces the separate side agreement. It provides assurances to workers and businesses by ensuring that all three state parties are held to account. It makes dispute resolution more accessible by reducing the burden of proof for the complainant, and clarifies the relationship between the new trade agreement and domestic or multilateral environment agreements. Moreover, the amendments agreed to in December of last year strengthen the act's dispute settlement provision to make a good deal even better and ensure that robust obligations on the environment will be fully enforceable.

It is the Government of Canada's priority to ensure that Canada's trade agreements not only advance our commercial interests, but also bring real benefits to all Canadian stakeholders. The environmental provisions support Canadian businesses by ensuring that trading partners enforce their environmental laws so that all parties operate on a level playing field.

When NAFTA came into effect in 1994, it was the first free trade agreement to link the environment and trade through a comprehensive agreement. This agreement was called the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. Over the past quarter-century, officials and experts from all three countries have carried out co-operative projects through this agreement. By doing this, we have enhanced our shared capacity to address environmental challenges.

Continuing with this tradition, the new NAFTA, or CUSMA, integrates comprehensive and ambitious environmental provisions directly into a dedicated environment chapter within the agreement, which is subject to provisions on dispute settlement that were not there before.

The new NAFTA preserves the core obligations on environmental governance that were present in the original agreement. This includes commitments to pursue and maintain environmental stewardship, effectively enforce environmental laws and promote transparency, accountability and public participation. These measures reflect the importance we place on ensuring that open trade and environmental conservation go hand in hand.

The new environment chapter includes commitments that go beyond what the original environmental co-operation agreement envisioned. State parties are no longer permitted to ignore environmental law to attract trade or investment and must also ensure that proper environmental impact assessments are carried out for projects with potential risks to the environment.

The new NAFTA creates new commitments on a wide range of global environmental issues, such as illegal wildlife trade and illegal logging, management of fisheries, protection of the marine environment and the ozone layer, sustainable forestry, and the conservation of biological diversity and species at risk. It also includes new commitments aimed at strengthening the relationship between trade and environment, including the promotion of trade in environmental goods and services, responsible business conduct and voluntary mechanisms to enhance environmental performance.

For the first time in a free trade agreement, the new NAFTA includes articles on air quality and marine litter. It includes binding commitments prohibiting the practice of shark finning. It also recognizes the important role that indigenous people are playing in the ongoing stewardship of the environment, sustainable fisheries and forestry management, and biodiversity conservation.

This agreement also provides for an environment consultation mechanism. Should state parties fail to resolve any environmental matter in a co-operative manner through various levels of consultation, including consultation at the ministerial level, a complainant may seek recourse through a broader formal dispute settlement. Additionally, trade sanctions may be imposed by an independent review panel, if needed, to ensure compliance with environmental obligations.

Although the core obligations on environmental governance apply only to federal legislation, commitments in other areas of the agreement, such as conservation and fisheries, apply to not only the federal level but also the provincial level.

I mentioned earlier that the new NAFTA contains enhanced provisions to ensure enforceability. In December 2019, Canada, the United States and Mexico agreed to update certain elements of the agreement, including stronger environmental obligations. For example, state parties have committed to doing their part to implement multilateral environmental agreements that have been ratified domestically. The new NAFTA also provides better clarity on its relationship to these other environmental agreements.

Canada, the United States and Mexico have negotiated a parallel environmental co-operation agreement that ensures a continuation of a trilateral co-operation, ministerial-level dialogue between parties and public engagement. The Commission for Environmental Cooperation will continue to operate with the support of a secretariat based in Montreal, a ministerial council that will continue to meet on an annual basis and a joint public advisory committee.

The environmental co-operation agreement also allows the three countries to establish a work program in which they can develop co-operative activities on a broad range of issues. These include strengthening environmental governance; reducing pollution and supporting strong, low-emission and resilient economies; conserving and protecting biodiversity and habitats; supporting green growth and sustainable development; and promoting sustainable management and use of natural resources.

Furthermore, through the joint public advisory committee, representatives from each country will continue to ensure active public participation and transparency in the actions of the commission. This committee's membership will be diverse and gender-balanced, and will reflect all segments of society by including representatives of non-governmental organizations, academia, the private sector, indigenous peoples, private citizens and youth.

These measures highlight the importance of honouring our role as environmental stewards and upholding multilateral environmental standards.

The issue of environmental conservation is of the utmost importance to the residents of my riding of Richmond Hill. While I was knocking on doors last summer, resident after resident raised the issue of environmental action and compliance as something that our government should prioritize. In fact, concern over the environment was second only to affordability as a key voter issue.

In response to this feedback, my team and I have collaborated with environmental stakeholders and community groups, such as Blue Dot and Drawdown, and have held town halls to encourage public participation and give residents the opportunity to comment on how we can improve government programs and services.

The Government of Canada is committed to bringing Canadian goods and services to international markets while maintaining our highest standards of environmental conservation and stewardship. We know this is possible, and we have a responsibility to do both at the same time. Under the new NAFTA and the parallel environmental co-operation agreement, Canada, the United States and Mexico have come together to ensure we are protecting our shared environment now and for future generations.

I encourage all members of the House to support the bill so we can move it toward implementation.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Mazier Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Madam Speaker, I have a couple of questions about the environment and transboundary access for water control. The member said many things were established with respect to the environment. How do we control the air that goes across the border and the water that flows across the border, the transboundary water bodies like the Great Lakes? How is this tied up in CUSMA?

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Madam Speaker, for the bill and the programs, we brought together experts from the three countries through various committees to work together to make sure that elements such as water and air, where they cross borders, are taken into account.

From my point of view, this is no different from the extended supply chain in NAFTA or CUSMA throughout the three jurisdictions. Our supply chain is integrated and the agreement preserves our access. Therefore, water and air could be considered as an extended supply chain of cleaner air, cleaner water and a cleaner environment.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I really like taking preventive action. I am happy to learn that the new agreement includes measures dealing with the environment. However, I have to wonder whether the agreement provides for consequences if Mexico, Canada or the U.S. does not uphold its part.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Madam Speaker, this is one of the areas we are proud of. Our dispute mechanism remained intact. It is through the dispute mechanism, if these commitments have not been met, that we have a venue to bring issues to the forefront for a discussion.

I also talked about the parallel agreement that has been reached. Complainants now have the opportunity to use the dispute mechanism that is already in place and legislated to address issues.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, when the NDP called on the government to wait to ratify the first version of CUSMA so that the Democrats could improve it, the Deputy Prime Minister said, “what the NDP needs to understand is that reopening this agreement would be like opening Pandora's box.... It would be naive for the NDP to believe that Canadians would benefit from reopening this agreement.” However, the Liberals are very keen to brag about the improvements made by the U.S. Democrats.

Why should Canadians believe that the Liberals had anything to do with the changes that increased protections for workers and guard against higher drug prices?

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Madam Speaker, this is a collaborative process and better is always possible. When there is an opportunity for amendments to come forward that meet the needs of all three parties and enhance the agreement, it is our responsibility to listen and incorporate them. In this case, we did listen and incorporate, and now we have the support of our government.

I am hoping that all members across the aisle will support the bill, and hopefully some of the concerns will leave room for opportunities to address issues in the next round.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the member for Vancouver East, Housing; the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay, Natural Resources; and the member for Elmwood—Transcona, International Trade.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

March 10th, 2020 / 4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to have the opportunity to speak to the new NAFTA for the second time in this House. I would like to discuss the benefits of the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement for all Canadians. Guided by Canada's inclusive approach to trade, we have worked very hard from the beginning of negotiations to secure outcomes that would advance the interests of the Canadian middle class, small and medium-sized enterprises, women, indigenous peoples, and also to protect our most vulnerable residents.

Historically, Canada has always been a trading nation. Canadian exports account for nearly one-third of our GDP. Imports help meet the needs of both Canadian businesses and consumers, providing both variety in consumer products and important inputs for industry. Canada has productive trading relationships with much of the world. Our government is working hard to support trade diversification and to have new and expanding markets.

However, the United States is still our closest and largest trading partner, and the vast majority of goods that cross our common border do so tariff-free. Every day, $2.7 billion in trade and roughly 385,000 people cross the border between Canada and the United States. This exchange of goods, services and investments supports Canadian jobs, businesses and communities. Our close relationship underpins the prosperity of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Our focus from the outset of negotiations was to preserve middle-class jobs and foster economic growth. Small and medium-sized businesses, or SMEs, are the backbone of the Canadian economy, employing nearly 10.7 million Canadians in 2018. This represents about 90% of the private sector labour force.

Among Canadian firms that exported goods to the United States, 96.2% were small and medium-sized businesses, which together accounted for over $145 billion in exports. Among those that exported goods to Mexico the same year, just over 88% were small and medium-sized firms, which accounted for a total value of $2.6 billion in exports.

The new NAFTA would preserve Canada's tariff-free access to our most important market. This is vital for our SMEs that rely on North America's integrated supply chains and its almost 490 million customers. By preserving this important tariff-free access, the agreement provides predictability and stability for those nearly 10.7 million Canadians employed by SMEs that depend on trade. This enables SMEs to continue to strive and to contribute to the Canadian economy in communities right across this country.

The agreement also preserves the NAFTA binational panel dispute settlement mechanism, retaining our access to an independent and impartial process to challenge anti-dumping and countervailing duties. This has been particularly important to Canadian companies producing softwood lumber products for export to the United States and the 187,000 workers in the forestry sector. As somebody who is from the northern region of Nova Scotia, I see the effects of this in my riding.

While softwood lumber continues to benefit from duty-free treatment under the new NAFTA, we recognize there is a long history of the U.S. industry bringing forward anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations against Canadian softwood lumber products. Our success in maintaining the dispute settlement mechanism means that Canada could continue to bring challenges against any unwarranted or unfair duties in order to seek their removal and the reimbursement to Canadian exporters of duties that have been paid.

I am very glad to also see this new agreement preserves the general exception for our cultural industries, which employ over 665,000 people across the country.

Our creative economy is so important. Going forward with the green economy and the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century, it helps us to create content that will be seen all around the world and really show off our country. Our success in maintaining the dispute settlement mechanism means that we can continue to challenge any of these unwarranted examples and challenges to our cultural industries as well. They are integral to our linguistic and cultural identity and they ensure our capacity as Canadians to be able to tell our own stories.

One of Canada's goals is to better reflect the trade interests of indigenous peoples in trade negotiations. To that end, the Government of Canada undertook extensive engagement with indigenous leaders, representatives, proprietors of indigenous-owned businesses and policy experts to better understand their trade interests and to seek input on priorities for the negotiations.

We have also retained policy flexibility to provide preferential treatment for indigenous peoples and indigenous-owned businesses, including in the areas of services, investment, government procurement, environment and state-owned enterprises. This means that Canada will maintain its ability to create procurement programs that support small and minority-owned businesses, including indigenous-owned businesses.

The new agreement will support all Canadian businesses, including SMEs, by ensuring continued access to the U.S. and Mexican markets. It will update the rules of trade within North America, making it easier for Canadian companies to do business, including through streamlined customs and origin procedures and greater transparency in government regulations in a wide range of sectors. For instance, new customs and trade facilitation measures will make it easier for companies to move goods across the border, including reducing paper processes and providing a single portal to submit import documentation electronically.

SMEs stand to benefit to a greater extent from such measures, as they may not have the same resources as larger firms and they have to address challenges when operating across borders. Improvements made on dispute settlement, including labour rights, will also be very important for our SMEs, as it will help ensure effective implementation of the agreement and a more level playing field. This way, SMEs may find themselves to be more competitive and have market opportunities that were not accessible to them under NAFTA.

The new NAFTA also includes a chapter on SMEs that will foster co-operation among the parties in order to increase trade and investment opportunities. This includes capacity building and promotion activities to support SMEs owned by under-represented groups. The agreement recognizes that these groups may benefit from strengthened collaboration on SME promotion activities designed to increase their participation in international trade.

The agreement includes requirements to make information available for SMEs that is specifically tailored for their interests, including information on entrepreneurship, education programs for youth and under-represented groups, as well as information on obligations in the agreement that are particularly relevant to SMEs.

The agreement establishes an annual trilateral dialogue, which provides SMEs with an opportunity to collaborate in addressing any issue that could impact them in the future. The dialogue enables participation of representatives from private sector employees, non-government organizations, unions and other experts, thus ensuring diverse perspectives, which is so important on issues related to the agreement that are relevant to SMEs. By doing so, the new NAFTA will give a voice to Canadian SMEs and facilitate discussions on issues that matter to them.

Let me conclude by highlighting once again that we have worked very hard to ensure that this new agreement will be of benefit to all Canadians, including middle-class workers, small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as traditionally under-represented groups such as women and indigenous peoples.

I am proud to say that we have achieved our objective. We have made important progress toward elevating standards and benefits for all Canadians, and for that I am grateful.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Marc Dalton Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Madam Speaker, I am anticipating that the Conservative Party will be supporting the bill, but there is a lot of concern with the dithering of the Liberal government. We were basically taken to the cleaners. The U.S. was never really focused on Canada. It was focused on Mexico. We could have had a deal that was a lot more beneficial to Canadian interests than what has been signed.

The member opposite talked about softwood lumber in the Maritimes, but this has proven to be a disaster in British Columbia with mills closing down throughout the province, including in my community of Maple Ridge where a 100-year-old mill, which was still very modern, has closed down.

My question is, although this deal is better than no deal, would the member acknowledge that we could have done a lot better than what it actually turned out to be, which is what the U.S. Congress said—

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I am sorry, but we have to allow for other questions.

Members should take note of the signs that I am giving and pose their question when they see that I am telling them to hurry up.

The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, I would say to the member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge that I feel his pain regarding mills closing. In Nova Scotia several mills have also closed over the last 10 years for various reasons. It is never easy and it is very difficult for workers and union workers. However, I do not believe that it necessarily has anything to do with this particular deal. It has to do with the changing times and with businesses, oftentimes American businesses operating in Canada, going out of business.

One of the things I would say to the member is that I believe that this government did the very best it could under trying circumstances, and being forced into having to do a new NAFTA in the first place. I have to take my hat off to our Deputy Prime Minister for her hard work on this file.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, the member talked about the Deputy Prime Minister's approach to this trade deal. The Liberals say that this is the best we can get despite the circumstances.

When negotiations were entered into on this deal, the Liberals were happy with the original NAFTA. They did not want to renegotiate; they wanted the original deal. Then the first version of CUSMA was the best deal we could get. Now the latest version is the best deal we can get. Canadians are wondering how hard their government drove in terms of getting a good deal for Canadians at the negotiating table when the government has been satisfied every step of the way.

Is that the approach of the government on the softwood lumber agreement, saying to the people of B.C., “This is the best we can do”? Mills are closing and people are out of work. The government needs to take a better and stronger approach when it comes to these trade deals.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, as a former New Democrat, I know what it is like to be at the negotiating table.

We have to do the best we can do, no matter what we have or what is being offered. Of course we are going to say it is the best deal we can get. I mean, that is part of the trading deals that we do.

However, I have to remind people that pulp mills have been closing for the past 10 years. On one day, the day that Jack Layton died, two pulp mills closed in Nova Scotia. It was one of the most difficult days for our New Democrat government. We had to deal with Jack Layton's death and the closure of two pulp mills, and that was several years ago, long before this trade deal was ever a twinkling in Donald Trump's eye.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, it has now been several weeks since Bill C-4, an act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, was introduced.

It is becoming increasingly clear that this agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico has some serious consequences for Canada's and Quebec's economies. It is simple. Under this agreement, our exports to the United States will decrease and our imports from our neighbours to the south will increase. As a result, the United States will diminish Canada's industrial activity, shifting this activity to its own cities and towns. The C.D. Howe Institute's most recent study estimates that Canada's GDP will take a $14-billion hit. That is worrisome.

Agriculture in Canada, and especially in Quebec, will be one of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy. It will lose a significant portion of its market share to the United States. This is not to mention all the other trade benefits and legal advantages in terms of copyright, intellectual property, trademarks and data protection that the United States gained over Canada in these negotiations.

I even heard Canada's chief CUSMA negotiator say that the Government of Canada negotiated with the United States without analyzing the consequences of its decisions. Negotiating that kind of free trade agreement usually takes three years. Canadians should have been invited to submit studies that should have been debated to gain a better understanding of the long-term benefits for our economy. In this case, the United States forced negotiations and Canada was left scrambling.

The Government of Canada also rushed the study of Bill C-4. After finalizing the agreement last year, the Liberal government, which had a majority at the time, rejected the House of Commons' requests to examine the ins and outs of a future CUSMA implementation bill. That was last May. Then a general election was held on October 21. The House could have convened sooner, but that is not what happened. We finally opened the parliamentary session in December, but we did not discuss the agreement. We could have discussed it back in January, but that did not happen either. We could even have scheduled time for it in March during break last week, but it was all done in a rush in committee.

Fortunately, now that we have a minority government, the tone has changed, which has translated into some gains for Quebec. The Liberal government's haste was concealing some things. The Bloc Québécois insisted and managed to make the government aware of the consequences that its decisions and actions have on Quebec.

Fortunately, the Bloc Québécois was able to intelligently intervene to make this agreement a little more favourable for Quebec. If the Bloc Québécois had not done so, the Liberal government would have hurt Quebec's aluminum industry, even though it is the cleanest in the world. Indeed, CUSMA would have driven away more than $6 billion in investments in Quebec's aluminum industry. The Bloc Québécois salvaged something from the wreckage. The negotiations with the Liberal Party on Bill C-4 proved once again the importance of the Bloc Québécois in Ottawa.

On the other hand, it is unfortunate that CUSMA does nothing to address the softwood lumber crisis. Once again, it lets the United States dictate the market.

I now want to come back to the impact the agreement will have on rural life. In Quebec, over two million people live in rural areas. Eighteen percent of Quebeckers live in a village like Saint-André-de-Kamouraska or in a small urban community like Macamic in the west of Abitibi. Over 40% of the revenue in Quebec's agricultural regions comes from the dairy industry. The weakening of supply management directly undermines the economic and social development of Quebec's rural regions.

Last weekend, I attended the Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec convention in my home town of Rouyn-Noranda. I spoke with many next generation farmers who are very concerned about the impact of the changes to supply management because a stable, predictable income is important.

In CUSMA, as in previous agreements, Canada failed Quebec's dairy farmers. I would like to remind members that most of Canada's dairy farms are in Quebec. CUSMA gives up more than 3% of our dairy market, which amounts to an annual loss of $150 million in revenue for the two million people who live in the rural regions. Our agricultural community, which is at the very heart of our villages' vitality, continues to grow weaker every year.

I therefore expect the government to think about our towns and villages in the various compensation programs. That is why the Bloc Québécois, dairy producers and farmers in general are asking for a direct support program to compensate for losses, starting with the next budget—and that means very soon—to ensure that the economic vitality of our rural regions is not undermined.

Canada seems to have no regard for the reality that farm life and supply management create jobs and investments that contribute to the existence of a strong middle class in Quebec's rural areas.

Fortunately, a few days ago, the Bloc Québécois introduced a bill to protect supply management in Quebec in future trade negotiations.

Under this bill, the federal government will not be able to make an international trade commitment through a treaty or an agreement that would have the unfortunate effect of undermining supply management in Quebec. Our farmers and producers will finally have the protection they deserve to deal with the politics of free trade in the world. Circumventing supply management needs to stop. This bill is essential. I invite all my colleagues in the House of Commons to support it because, in addition to being an easy target in negotiations, supply management can also be circumvented with the right strategies. It is no secret that the United States has been using milk protein as a way of getting around supply management for years. It used to be a way for them to offload their surpluses onto Canadian markets at a lesser price than what our producers were asking. Now, they use it as a weapon to destroy supply management.

With the last agreement, the Canadian milk solids industry has literally been put under third-party management by the United States. Washington can limit the amount of protein our producers are entitled to sell in the rest of the world. The Americans will be able to squeeze Quebec out of global markets. That is a direct attack on our sovereignty. In other words, our producers could end up with huge surpluses and the surpluses could disrupt and jeopardize our family farm model.

Even worse, CUSMA also requires that we consult the United States about changes to the administration of the supply management system for Canada's dairy products. To force a Canadian industry to consult its direct competitor in another country about administrative changes it could make in future on the national level challenges our sovereignty.

For that reason the Bloc Québécois is recommending that Bill C-4 be accompanied by the following measures: that supply-managed producers and processors be fully compensated for their losses resulting from the trans-Pacific agreement, CETA and CUSMA and that this be clearly indicated in the next budget; that import licences resulting from breaches in supply management be issued first to processors rather than distributors and retailers; that, before ratifying CUSMA, the government consider the fact that if the agreement comes into force before August 1, 2020, milk protein export quotas for 2020-21 will be 35,000 tonnes rather than 55,000 tonnes if the agreement comes into force after August 1; that the government establish a permanent forum with producers and processors to ensure that the export tariff quotas are implemented in such a way as to cause the least possible harm to the dairy sector.

I was talking about the importance of income stability, which will have huge implications for the next generation of farmers in particular. Access to land, all of the bank loans and other programs are made possible through guarantees. The quota system and supply management were the main guarantees that farmers could offer. The implications are still being downplayed and they affect the cities, towns and regions of Quebec especially. All of Canada's concessions to our trade partners in recent agreements will have a direct impact on Quebec's rural economy. The latest trade agreements negotiated and signed by Ottawa have done nothing but create uncertainty in Quebec's towns and regions, in particular among farm owners, who are generally the ones who stimulate economic growth in their communities.

The principles of CUSMA will clearly have huge implications on investments in farms and processors, not to mention the job losses in cities and towns. The impact on agricultural producers goes beyond dairy farmers. We are talking about other farmers, veterinarians, equipment manufacturers, equipment vendors, truck drivers and feed suppliers. These financial losses will be felt by the various SMEs that remain in these towns. What is worse, the towns' social development will be affected. Services could be lost, schools could be shut down, and so on.

I invite all my colleagues in the House to visit the riding of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, particularly east of Témiscamingue, to understand the impact of a school closure or even the closure of a single retail store. In order to reduce the impact of all these losses, especially on rural Quebec, would it be possible for Ottawa to finally accede to Quebec's request that Quebeckers be put in charge of regional development programs? In the wake of the disastrous outcomes for rural Quebec, federal programs should be tailored to rural Quebec instead of being Canada-wide programs designed by Ottawa. If Ottawa is not in a position to protect and develop rural Quebec, if Ottawa does not care about Quebec's regions, then it should let Quebec manage the programs in a way that is more effective and beneficial for Quebec.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Yukon Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency)

Madam Speaker, I have to disagree. We have a minister for regional development in Quebec, separate from the rest of the country, who is doing an excellent job, and all sorts of projects are being approved.

The member mentioned the quota on milk protein, and that is true, but the quota is far above what we are producing now, so it is not going to have any immediate effect.

The member also talked about losses of investment in aluminum. Those decisions were made before the CUSMA final agreement was made.

As well, he mentioned a study, but there have been tons of studies that show the effects on benefits if we did not have this agreement. For instance, the RBC said there would be a dramatic reduction in the Canadian GDP of 1%, affecting 500,000 workers, and Scotiabank said that the Canadian economy would stand a strong chance of falling into recession without this agreement.

There are $57 billion worth of exports from manufacturers in Quebec, great businesses, which the agreement protects, and the cultural exemption would protect 75,000 Quebec workers.

Does the member agree those are benefits?

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, I completely disagree with my colleague when he says that this has no impact on our producers. Signing the agreement on May 1 will have a devastating effect. We can try to salvage something for the industry and the producers because they work with the dairy year, which begins on August 1. The agreement comes into effect three months after it is signed.

About 110,000 tonnes of dairy products are sold on the markets. If the agreement comes into effect before August 1, producers will be able to export 55,000 tonnes in that dairy year. That is the agreed amount for the first year. However, if the agreement comes into effect earlier, we will have one month to dispose of those 55,000 tonnes. The amount is 35,000 tonnes for the second year.

If we manage to buy time, if we act responsibly as parliamentarians and take the time to debate it, we will be able to save part of the industry.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, the hon. member from the Bloc Québécois listed a few areas of concern in the CUSMA agreement. I would appreciate it if he could restate them and discuss them.

I would also ask him to explain why the government failed to bring a good agreement to Canada and Canadians, and what could have been done to get a better agreement.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Lemire Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, that is a good question, and I thank my colleague for asking it. A number of things did indeed fall through the cracks.

That happened because the government rushed things and botched the agreement.

Maybe they were afraid of the sharks on the U.S. side of the table, as François Gendron, an excellent MNA from Abitibi-Témiscamingue, suggested when he talked to the next generation of farmers at the Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec late last week.

I want to point out that the Bloc Québécois took action to find a solution that works within the framework of the signed agreement, a way to control aluminum import mechanisms. That benefits us in two ways, one of which is providing real-time data about aluminum imports. This mechanism works with what is already in place.

We will be able to ensure that the Mexicans are not engaging in dumping and that foreign aluminum—if its existence is confirmed in a report—is not processed. That means cast and shaped aluminum produced in North America will be used to make our car parts.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to talk about the current state of CUSMA from two perspectives. In my speech, I will reiterate some of the things my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue just mentioned.

First, I would like to start with an overview of recent developments and the exceptional and thoughtful work our party did to accomplish what at first seemed unlikely.

Second, I will address the factor that I like to call the historical context. I will talk about the different circumstances that set the stage for the various trade negotiations that occurred over the past 50-plus years, and the challenges posed by our current situation.

I would first like to applaud the hard work of the Bloc Québécois members from Lac-Saint-Jean and Jonquière, as well as the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for his work on the parliamentary committee in this file. They all worked tirelessly and with great determination, with the support of our leader, the member for Beloeil—Chambly. They brought people together and supported many stakeholders—mayors and unions—in the aluminum industry, which is vital to their region.

The Bloc Québécois keeps its word. We are here to protect and support Quebec's interests and economy. We have not let up since December. Our resiliency and concern for our own have been on full display over the past few months.

I must recognize, and it is recognized, that the government decided to get involved on two levels. First, it committed to collect real-time data on aluminum imports in Mexico through traceability measures. Second, if that data shows that Mexico is indeed sourcing foreign aluminum, the government promised to revisit this issue so that the “melted and poured in North America” clause applies to aluminum in the same way it applies to steel. By so doing, the government recognized that aluminum did not have the same protection as steel.

Let us not forget that, in the new Canada-United States-Mexico agreement, Canada is the only party that is actually harmed by the dumping phenomenon, that the trade agreements prohibit dumping, that this practice results in unfair competition, and that the success of free trade agreements must normally be based on mutual gains.

Our leader and member for Beloeil—Chambly found the balance required and obtained the co-operation of the Deputy Prime Minister to protect our economic interests and the interests of thousands of North Shore and Lac-Saint-Jean workers.

Earlier, I mentioned historical context as a factor. I would now like to talk about it by going back in time briefly.

The economic sovereignties of Canada and the United States have changed significantly since the second half of the 20th century. Initially, we had what was known as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, GATT, where the United States determined the outcome of trade disputes that might arise in a protectionist context. The energy crisis of the late 1970s and the difficult recession of the early 1980s opened the door to very cautious trade relations. The implementation of the FTA in 1989 required the tact, skilful bilateral trade relations and people-to-people links that were the hallmarks of the time.

Members will recall that Quebec economists were in favour of it. Like the Bloc Québécois today, two great economists, two great men who left their mark on Quebec, Jacques Parizeau and Bernard Landry, knew that such an agreement would be beneficial for Quebec and its economy.

In this initial agreement, Ottawa, Washington and Quebec were all winners. Mexico would complete the free trade trio less than two years later.

Under NAFTA, Quebec quickly reaped the benefits of its economic dynamism and, despite the virtual disappearance of its manufacturing industry, the growing openness of 21st-century world markets would allow the development of leading-edge industries. Collectively, we moved forward in an increasingly globalized world, with growing trade and much more.

I would like to highlight two elements that I cannot ignore. These two elements also come from the past.

They speak volumes about the arguments our party raised for several weeks. During all the years that the Bloc Québécois had a lot of seats in the House, successive governments were forced to take Quebec's expectations into account. No less than 16 trade agreements were negotiated and signed without ever allowing for the slightest breach in supply management.

In 2011 and 2015, with reduced Bloc representation, Canada concluded three free trade agreements. That made three agreements with three major breaches, namely Europe, the Asia Pacific region and CUSMA. If there are fewer Bloc Québécois members, does that translate into less consideration for Quebec? To ask that question is to answer it.

This CUSMA came together with the Trump administration. We can all agree that this is a new context and it is not just any context. Based on three deals that are seriously eroding supply management, Canada is firmly on the path to weakening its sovereignty by letting our neighbour to the south undermine it. Yes, I said “its sovereignty”. I think everyone knows that, for the Bloc Québécois, leaving our sovereignty in the hands of another nation is contrary to our nature.

Indeed, CUSMA grants the Americans oversight of the milk protein exports Canada can offer to countries outside North America. A provision like this in a trade agreement is unheard of in anything other than a colonial context, as this provision could have a devastating impact on the dairy industry. This is a question of sovereignty, since we are putting decisions that are our responsibility into the hands of another country. These decisions are not its concern. In other words, the United States was just handed control over Canada's external relations.

In Quebec, we are committed to our farmers. We respect our dairy producers. With CUSMA, Canada has scored a hat trick with three agreements that undermine Quebec's trade model, which has proven successful. The truth is, without a strong Bloc Québécois presence, the Canadian government does less for Quebec.

The historic context we are heading toward is now global. Every economy in the world has to deal with this. I am talking about the climate crisis that has to collectively push us to rise above commercial concerns alone. We have to ask questions. Is intensifying our economic integration the best way to act in this new context? Do we have what it takes to inspire other countries to do their part to deal with climate matters? Is it possible to reconcile economic prosperity with respect for the environment, and if so, how? Is it possible to reconcile regional vitality with economic openness? With regard to the last two questions, I would say that Quebec's aluminum industry is a fine example and that its development can inspire other countries.

We are calling on the government to be responsible and truly follow through on its recent commitments on the two measures related to the aluminum industry and to fully keep its promises.

We are also calling on the government to consider possible accommodations when it comes to Quebec's large dairy industry. Such steps are not so uncommon and the government does not have to wait 10 years to take them. These kinds of steps were taken at least 16 times in 15 years of NAFTA.

We are also asking the government to support our bill, Bill C-216, on supply management, and give it the consideration it deserves, that Quebec deserves, that its farming economy deserves.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Yukon Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency)

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her very thoughtful speech and the co-operation of the Bloc related to this. I think what the Bloc has added related to aluminum is good. Everyone was worried about dumping from China into Mexico. The member mentioned only Canada was at risk, but that is not true. Nothing has changed with this agreement related to the risk. However, the major benefits for aluminum, over and above that, are that the overall regional value content rises from 62.5% to 75%, 70% of aluminum purchased by auto makers must be North American, and 7% of the core parts of a car must have 75% regional value. The conditions on aluminum can be changed at any time.

I know the Bloc is very sensitive to the environment, to labour, to women's rights and to cultural preservation. This agreement has clauses related to all of those. I would like to know if the member agrees that the benefits for those are good to have in the agreement?